Need to translate text from an email message or website from Chinese to English or vice versa? You can pop it into Google Translate, Bing Translator, or another online translation tool. But what if you want to translate a spoken conversation in real-time, while it’s happening?
That’s where Skype Translator comes in. Microsoft subsidiary Skype launched an early version of the service with support for English and Spanish last year. Now Skype Translator supports two more languages: Italian and Mandarin Chinese.
We’re still talking about machine translation, so don’t expect Skype Translator to understand unusual idioms or even always get the grammar right. But it’s certainly better than nothing if you want to hold a real-time conversation with someone who speaks a different language.
This could open the door for making it easier to travel plans before visiting a new country, allowing students to discuss research notes, or for business people to conduct meetings without hiring a third-party translator, among other things.
In addition to support for new languages, the latest preview of Skype Translator includes support for text-to-speech so you can hear instant messages read aloud in your preferred language, automatic volume control, and an option to turn off audio for translations if you’d prefer to read the text only.